In my last post, I summarized the Four Tendencies, a framework used by happiness expert Gretchen Rubin to describe the four basic ways that people respond to inner and outer expectations. This time, we will focus on the most common tendency: the Obliger.

Obligers meet outer expectations well but struggle with inner expectations. For example, if you are an Obliger, you might do very well with a program like Weight Watchers, which has outer accountability built in, but you might struggle with keeping your New Year’s resolutions. If you are an Obliger, then, what will help you to succeed with the KonMari method?

Ultimately, Obligers should build outer accountability into their process.  If Obligers toil away without telling anyone what they are doing and without any external commitment to finish the process, it is easy for them to let their progress with the KonMari method fall by the wayside when external commitments arise. An Obliger might, for example, decide that the KonMari process can wait when a work project ramps up or when a child’s school needs someone to coordinate the school bake sale. To avoid having other things take priority over finishing the KonMari process, Obligers need outer accountability.

How can an Obliger build outer accountability into the KonMari process?  One of the best ways to do so is to hire a certified KonMari consultant. When Obligers work with other people to accomplish tasks, those other people help to keep the Obligers on track. Having a particular appointment, for a particular date, with a certified consultant can help Obligers to prioritize this process and not let it be replaced by others’ claims on their time.

Alternatively, Obligers could choose to use social accountability to stay on track. For example, some Obligers might choose to announce on Facebook, or other social media, that they are beginning this process on a particular date, that they plan to complete it by a particular date, and that they would like their friends to follow along with the process and help keep them motivated.  The drawback to this approach comes if the Obliger’s friends do not actively keep up with their progress, failing to spur them on if it looks like their progress is stalling out.  Others do not necessarily enjoy taking on the obligation to hold someone else accountable, so it can be difficult to find someone to do so through social media channels. Gretchen Rubin’s Better app does facilitate the creation of accountability groups for Obligers and other support groups for other tendencies, but these groups may or may not provide enough external accountability to keep an Obliger on track.

A happy medium may be for an Obliger to find an accountability partner.  For example, if a friend also wants to make progress with the KonMari method, the friends can agree to check in at regular intervals and report their progress. This could work even if the friend is not working through the KonMari process; any goal that each person has will do, as long as they agree to help keep each other on track.

If you are an Obliger, then, I recommend that you create external accountability to keep you moving steadily toward your goal to complete the KonMari process. In the same way that working with a personal trainer can help Obligers to make their health and fitness a priority, working with a KonMari consultant or an accountability partner can help Obligers to prioritize their decluttering and not let other obligations take precedence when they shouldn’t. If you are an Obliger, has this type of accountability worked for you?  If your progress has stalled, I urge you to try it and see if it helps!

Next time, we’ll turn to the second-most-common tendency: the Questioner.